“I call her The Crow,” Amos grinned widely, handing an unsteady and nervous Nym a pair of flight goggles. “Go ahead and have a look, Peach. Top of the world!”
Nym felt wobbly and off center moving on the modest vessel. Amos shifted something at the helm causing the ship to lurch and she was suddenly thrown forward, terrified and grasping at the railings. She couldn’t help but wonder if he had done it on purpose, a theory which was reinforced by his lack of eye contact and crooked smile.
Her momentary irritation was replaced instantly by wide-eyed wonder as, looking out from the railing of The Crow’s underbelly, she beheld the entire landscape of Meiville. The air was cool and crisp high above the city, Spring’s palette of golden-green freckled with the bright yellow of daffodils wound around cut stone paths. The fresh white sails of dozens of ships caressed the wind as they wafted along an endless indigo sea or an eternal cerulean sky. She could smell the nearby bakery and the lilacs springing from window baskets along the lane below. A gentle breeze brushed her flushing cheek and her unruly, amber hair shifted into her eyes. Perched on the railing she saw the world as she had never seen it before -and took her breath away.
Amos’ hand was suddenly on her shoulder warmly calling her away from her reverie. He smiled gently, and not wishing to ruin it by saying something stupid, reminded her with a gesture to put on her goggles.
The moment of tenderness disappeared the instant Amos set their ascent. The air ship creaked and bucked and screamed as Amos pushed buttons and pulled levers furiously. The balloon seemed to rise and then resist with every command he gave it. The ship teetered and bucked like a crazed bull high above the peaceful city.
“Do you even know how to fly this thing?” Nym protested in a panic, finding a seat as quickly as possible and harnessing herself to it. Any sweetness she might have felt for the man dissolved instantly into regret and images of their white knuckled, fiery death.
“Sure thing, Peach,” he called just before forcefully kicking the control center, which had the surprising effect of steading the cacophony of squeels. After a moment, Nym felt a soft buoyant drift over take them as the balloon ascended, the mechanical wings lifting and falling with the soft purr of bellows. Amos smirked at the expanse of instruments before him, “Just gotta show ‘er who’s boss.”
Amos settled in next to her, and made awkward conversation or sat in utter silence when he was not actively occupied with piloting the airship (or on occasion pretending to do so). Nym busied herself scratching reminders into her notebook or watching the world sail past in a sort of half dream. She had many questions she wanted to ask, but they seemed to stick in her throat whenever she looked at him.
It was tea time before the two made dock in Stevenson District. Once a bustling center of innovation and higher learning, it had fallen to disrepair and was beset by the more criminal element of Meiville. Nym was surprised to see Amos taking a protective stance over her which both flattered and offended her at the same time.
“Best be quick now, Peach,” he said. “This ain’t no place for a Lady.” And he placed his hand on her back as they walked.
She pulled away, strengthening her gait and shot him an irritated look, “I assure you, I can handle myself.”
Shocked and a little wounded, Amos pulled his arm away, “Have it your way, Peach. But if you wanna blend in a little while you’re ‘handling yourself’ you might loose the goggles.” He took to his stride then, forcing her to hurry along after.
Instantly feeling mortified at having forgotten that she was wearing flight goggles, Nym quickly removed them and stuffed them into her satchel . Then, looking around, she became aware of darkened alleys, people shouting and the occasional gun shot. No matter how frightened she felt though, she had to keep her air of self sufficiency. It simply would not do for her to let Amos think that she was weak or in anyway in need of his help- beyond escorting her to the shop of Marcel Ghostraven. She would be the one leading this expedition, not some pseudo-pilot, half-pirate, man-child.
Still -the second she thought of him with revile she couldn’t help but remember how he had looked standing in the doorway of the Archive, or how sweetly he had made her feel at ease aboard The Crow. Whoever Amos DeVile was, whatever his underlying intention, he was here helping her to find answers.
In the dank of a rat infested alley scarce visited by a human soul, a glowing, green sign blinked the last moments of it’s neon life against the shadows:
GhostRaven’s SteamPunk and Pirates